GREY MUT­TER lance fred­er­icks At least you’re not a Melvyn

Diamond Fields Advertiser - - OPINION -

MELVYN was built funny and was not known for his ath­leti­cism; and, as a re­sult, he was al­ways at the re­ceiv­ing end of ridicule.

Melvyn had two left feet, gan­gly legs and five thumbs on each hand; he also had an over­sized head and a neck that seemed too thin to sup­port that mas­sive co­conut.

Yes, Melvyn was a real klutz. Now, for the record, Melvyn is not an ac­tual per­son from my his­tory, but he is a com­pos­ite of all the nonath­letic types who find them­selves on play­grounds ev­ery day, miss­ing kicks, drop­ping balls lobbed at them and fall­ing down while run­ning in a straight line on a level sur­face … Melvyns can be re­ally funny to ob­serve.

The awe­some thing about a Melvyn though is that you could al­ways com­pare your­self to him. “Guys, I know that I suck at cricket, but let me play … at least I’m not as bad as Melvyn!”

How­ever, such clumsy sorts are some­times hard to find and peo­ple need to laugh at klutzes; there­fore there is a new trend – prank videos. With the right prank any­one and ev­ery­one can be turned into a Melvyn for our view­ing plea­sure. There are hun­dreds, if not thou­sands of videos on­line of peo­ple do­ing ter­ri­bly cruel things to oth­ers, all in the name of a “good prank”.

And the masses laugh along, thereby en­cour­ag­ing the cru­elty.

One par­tic­u­larly dis­turb­ing prank video has a “bee­keeper” seem­ingly drop­ping his hives in an el­e­va­tor and then while a sound­track of an­gry bees plays, the bee­keeper pricks the ter­ri­fied vic­tims – who have cov­ered their eyes in fear – with a nee­dle. That’s not funny – that’s di­a­bol­i­cal!

Ap­par­ently South African sports fans didn’t need prank videos to make them laugh this past week­end, be­cause the Boks and Bafana pro­vided all the Melvyns that fans could han­dle. The young men and coaches upon whom so much hope and good en­ergy rested on Fri­day were dis­graced “Melvyns” by Sun­day. It’s good when we have a Melvyn to point a finger at … it some­how makes us feel su­pe­rior.

“At least we haven’t failed like they have,” we say, pat­ting our­selves on the back. Af­ter all, it al­ways feels so good to high­light oth­ers’ fail­ings, see­ing as we have no fail­ings of our own.

When a gov­ern­ment is crit­i­cised for ne­glect­ing the cit­i­zens un­der its care, it de­flects at­ten­tion to the Melvyns in the pre­vi­ous op­pres­sive regime. When some­one is found to have had fin­gers in the cookie jar, the re­sponse is: “But those Melvyns stole much more than I did!”

When we are neg­li­gent on the roads and drive care­lessly, we are quick to re­mind our crit­ics that at least we are not taxi-driv­ing Melvyns.

The value of a Melvyn can­not be over­es­ti­mated.

We even have it in fam­i­lies … I re­mem­ber be­ing found out for do­ing some­thing naughty, and I was quick to point to my Melvyn brother and sis­ter and what THEY did. It’s an amaz­ingly ef­fec­tive ploy, trust me.

There are even, I have heard through the grapevine, cases of spouses mak­ing Melvyns out of each other. A young wife will go to her girl­friends to “skin­ner” about her Melvyn-hubby, and the hubby will be at the club “dis­cussing” his Melvyn­wife’s odd quirks. Which may not be the health­i­est thing to do.

In the late 19th cen­tury Ellen White penned these sober­ing words: “The heart of his wife should be the grave for the faults of the hus­band, and the heart of the hus­band the grave for his wife’s faults. Never should ei­ther party in­dulge in a joke at the ex­pense of the other’s feel­ings.

“Never should ei­ther the hus­band or wife in sport or in any other man­ner com­plain of each other to oth­ers, for fre­quently in­dulging in this fool­ish and what may seem per­fectly harm­less jok­ing will end in trial with each other and per­haps es­trange­ment.”

Maybe we should em­brace the pos­si­bil­ity that we’re all just Melvyns try­ing to play the game of life to the best of our abil­ity.

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